Seven Champions

John was one of the founder members of Seven Champions …

The Seven Champions Molly Dancers 1977-1987 by George E. Frampton [Lore & Language 6/2 (1987) 65-81]

The new team – as yet without a name – were led by two experienced dancers in Chris White and Dave Dye. Ian “Pike” Teece and John Gasson also left Headcorn to form the new team, and new recruits were found among work colleagues and ex-school friends Chris Rose and Paul Hurst.

A second mutation occurred when the usual musician, Chris White, was unavailable for a stand. John Gasson was back from university and had decided that he now knew the intricacies of the melodeon well enough as to be able to dance and play it at one and the same time. The relief musician enlisted insisted on playing too fast for some of the dancing, and it transpired that John took matters into his own hands during the revised Steeple Claydon reel. The dance the “1.49 Reel” was born, in honour of its duration, replacing the parent that begat it.

Throughout the history of the side: firstly through Chris White on anglo-concertina, then through John Gasson on fiddle, melodeon, anglo-concertina, saxophone – or whatever else he felt pleased to pick up and play, and more latterly through Paul Hurst on English concertina or melodeon, the aim has been to try and keep the tempo of the dance down to around fifty six beats per minute optimum (as measured by a metronome) albeit with variations for “swing and change”.

Tracey writes:
“John was often grinning although he wasn’t supposed to (in 7 Champs). I particularly like the picture of John sitting with his melodeon somewhere as this shows that it is particularly him, and not lost in a set of black faces. He was always recognized by his round glasses and his inability to behave. Near the end of his days he played a character called the Maggot which involved him wearing a white lollipop person mac (the crossing of road lollipop person) and a white bathing hat with is black face and his trousers rolled up so they didn’t show with his hobnail boots on.”